Published : 2013-10-14 18:57
Updated : 2013-10-14 18:57
Politics has long been crippled by chronic partisan wrangling in Korea, but the country may still take pride in its achievement of building an industrialized democracy out of the ruins of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Since a massive civil uprising ended decades of military-backed authoritarian rule in 1987, the nation has held a number of presidential, parliamentary and local elections without a hitch, though not flawlessly. Vote rigging seems to have been obliterated from the memory of Korean voters.
The methods of managing elections have also become more accurate and efficient by taking advantage of the country’s rapid technological development and enhancing the expertise of election officials. Rival parties have accused each other of slander and illegal electioneering during past campaigns but raised little doubt about the credibility and fairness of the ways elections were managed by an independent government commission.
It was based on this successful experience that Korea’s National Election Commission in 2011 proposed to form an international organization tasked with promoting democracy around the world through free and fair elections. The promotion came to fruition Monday when delegates from election watchdog bodies in 120 countries and dozens of related international and nongovernmental groups launched the Association of World Election Bodies at its inaugural assembly in Incheon. It seemed only natural that they decided to place the headquarters of the new entity here, with a senior NEC official named as its first secretary-general.
The hosting of the international election body is welcomed as a testament to Korea’s democratic achievement and another valuable opportunity to enhance its global reputation and contribution. Korea is now required to make persistent and strenuous efforts to ensure that the A-WEB will take firm root and fulfill its mission successfully. It should assume the leading role in carrying out the organization’s plans to guarantee fair and free elections in developing nations by helping them build the necessary legal framework and infrastructure, create a worldwide database and establish international standards for democratic elections.
It would be more desirable, though unlikely, if Korean politicians were to show examples of moderate and productive politics.